Dashboard Software: 5 Reasons Your Organization Might Need It

Wondering whether you should invest in dashboard software? Here’s five reasons you may want to consider it.

Dylan, Founder and Managing Partner at ClearPoint, has over 25 years of experience working with organizations to improve their performance management and strategy execution processes.

A dashboard is a business intelligence tool that helps your organization better understand and visualize large sets of data. And dashboard software allows you to create a dashboard quickly and effectively.

That sounds easy enough—but you may be wondering if your organization could actually benefit from using a dashboard. And that’s a great question! Below, we’ll be examining five ways you could benefit and draw value from a dashboard.

1. You need a common way to talk about the same measure.

Have you noticed that someone in your sales department describes your revenue different than someone in your marketing department? And your finance department doesn’t use either of their definitions? If you don’t have a commonly accepted definition of your measures, a dashboard might be a great tool to integrate within your organization. Even the practice of simply creating a dashboard will be helpful in getting your team on the same page, using the same common definition.

2. You need to see your data in real time (or the same time period).

Let’s say you want to examine recent sales and mention it in a meeting. One person might start looking at your total sales from 2015, while another is looking at year-to-date sales in 2016, while someone else is only examining the sales from that month. Those individuals are probably looking at extremely different figures! And having a productive conversation about sales won’t be possible if you’re not all on the same page.

A dashboard gives you and your team the ability to see your information in its most up-to-date form so you can look at benchmarks and data from the same time periods and address appropriate elements.

3. You need to focus your organization on a small set of key priorities.

Think for a moment of the following situation. You run a manufacturing facility, and you want to focus on your error and defect rates. Everyone understands the definition of an error rate, but isn’t sure what measure to focus on to determine whether you’re being successful with this particular priority. Should you examine the cost of the defects? How long has it been since a widget was created with a defect? What about the number of widgets with a defect in the last week? Or should you simply determine the overall profit of the line during the course of the week?

As you can tell, this could get confusing quickly. Dashboard software helps you select the measures you’ll use to assess your key priorities and ensure that everyone in the organization understands how those are measured.

4. You're determined to focus on teamwork.

Dashboard software can help get everyone in your company on the same page, working toward a common goal. If you work at an airline, a common goal might be plane turnaround time. To ensure the success of this goal, pilots may help do safety inspections, and flight attendants might do some cleanup on the plane so you can speed the deplane and reloading process and ensure that flights depart on time.

In a factory setting, your team might be focused on the number of days since the last safety incident. This may generate a culture of not cutting corners, looking out for fellow employees, cleaning up areas that aren’t necessarily in your area of responsibility, and more. In essence, a dashboard can encourage team solidarity and discourage apathy or selfishness.

5. You want to create healthy competition across multiple locations.

If you have multiple locations, a dashboard may help you create healthy competition across your organizations. Consider the strategy used by Hilton Hotels. This massive hotel chain uses a common dashboard that measures whether the hotel is operating ideally, which is displayed on the wall behind the check-in desk. At the end of the year, the chain gives an award to the hotel with the highest dashboard ratings. This program has done an excellent job at creating friendly competition within the brand.

Are you aligning your organization correctly?

Before you move forward with your dashboard, a word of caution: Without the right measures, you could be driving your organization to a precarious situation.

If you’re concerned that your measures aren’t right, you may want to consider creating a scorecard. It has more of a strategic link to your goals and can be beneficial to revise or sharpen any processes or strategy. (If this sounds familiar, this article that compares dashboards and scorecards might help!)

Dashboard Software: 5 Reasons Your Organization Might Need It